Reshaping New York’s Second Largest City & Beyond

In a true New Yorker attitude and brotherhood, the entire state has rallied behind our neighbors to reinvigorate the Erie Canal and Buffalo region. From New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “StartUp NY” law and “Buffalo Billion” grant, to the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering rapidly expanding from Albany to Utica to Buffalo and worker retraining in full effect, the region—with a special focus on Buffalo, New York’s second largest city—is on the brink of an economic resurgence.

In the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the rapid expansion of the United States and trade within maximized the capacity of traditional routes, like natural waterways, while creating a demand for a quicker and more reliable link between the Great Lakes economy and the Atlantic Coast economy, which was integrated with the international market. The solution: the Erie Canal, completed in 1825, which cut the cost of transported goods by 90%.

Today, nearly 80% of upstate New York's population lives within 25 miles of the Erie Canal.

As technology introduced innovations like the locomotive and tractor-trailer, New York’s major trade route stayed the same—after all, the fundamental goal never changed; the Empire Corridor railway and New York State Thruway are laid out alongside the Erie Canal so that people and goods can most easily travel between New York City and Albany and Buffalo because that is, naturally, the more established route.

Today, nearly 80% of upstate New York's population lives within 25 miles of the Erie Canal.

Throughout the past few decades, though, industry throughout the Erie Canal region declined. This has left thousands of New Yorkers in need of an economy as strong as their spirits and presents the State University of New York with a prime opportunity to educate, retrain, and support that will.

The Resurgence of New York's Second-Largest City

From its diminishing population base to surging poverty rates through the end of the 20th Century, Buffalo is one of the most-documented Rust Belt economies. But with luminosity comes opportunity: because the problem is well-defined, the natural next step is to find a solution. With over two dozen colleges and universities in the immediate region alone, thousands of experts and students eagerly explore revitalization options hand-in-hand with Western New Yorkers.

Governor Cuomo has touted the State University of New York as the state’s economic engine. So, naturally, New York has looked to its permanent think-tank to capitalize on opportunities for growth; The Buffalo Billion and StartUp NY are just two of the myriad of ambitious consortia of economic development programs.

The Buffalo Billion is a $10 billion commitment from the State of New York to the Western New York region with the sole purpose to invigorate economic prosperity. By granting an unprecedented $100 million every year for ten years, the funds are targeted at nearly every single sector so that virtually every Western New Yorker feels its effects. The targets are organized into six parts and set forward in part by SUNY University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathy, whose unique perspective as a world-class university leader and community member positions him a perfect fit to maximize The Buffalo Billion.

And because New York is built on hard work and helping hands, The Buffalo Billion will not be alone; StartUp NY will support it until the last dollar is administered to Western New York.

StartUp NY is the most advanced style of university/industry partnership to be embraced by an entire state and has supported businesses expanding in Buffalo from day one. When a business comes to, expands in, or starts-up in areas like Western New York, they are partnered with a college and granted access to resources like research laboratories, industry experts, and student interns.

StartUp NY removes these barriers that traditionally prohibit new companies from entering a market; it pairs the curiosity of public university researchers with the aspiration of industry entrepreneurs.

Putting A Stake In The Ground

The State University of New York consistently works with its campuses across the Erie Canal and Western New York regions to develop sustainable and organic infrastructure to support the economic and education demands of each community.

In the greater Buffalo region, the community and state colleges are working hand-in-hand to support the labor and lifestyle shifts.

  • Erie Community College's massive workforce development capacity enables the regions' businesses, large and small, the employ a workforce of organically-talented New Yorkers;
  • Niagara County Community College's Hospitality Management and Operations Programs teach students the skills necessary to excel in greeting international visitors to Niagara Falls and prepares others to seamlessly transfer to four-year programs across New York State;
  • the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator harbors entrepreneurs in a unique facility with highly qualified faculty, technology experts, business professionals and mentors to significantly increase the probability of a startup's long-term success;
  • the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College illuminates the region's diversity through internationally-ronowned arts exhibits and education year-round;
  • and the University at Buffalo is host to hundreds of millions of dollars of capital development and the largest SUNY campus, enrolling nearly 30,000 students during any given semester.

All of these colleges work are syncronized in order to ensure access and deliver comprehensive results from completion.  And in addition to the colleges and university, three massive economic revitalization offenses are further transforming the outlook of upstate New York:

The Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus is a transformative approach to consolidating the knowledge-rich medical community in Buffalo. The University at Buffalo School of Medicine, a research-intensive medical institution, is in the process of being co-located with more than 20 private medical research companies. Many of the companies are themselves supported by programs of The Research Foundation for SUNY as Centers of Excellence and every single partner company, like every business in New York, has at its disposal their local Small Business Development Center.

The Buffalo High-Technology Manufacturing Complex is a state-of-the-art anchor hub facility for high tech and green energy businesses in Buffalo. Two California-based companies at the forefront of the clean energy revolution have invested $1.5 billion into the project and relocated major parts of their operations to Western New York from California, creating 850 permanent jobs and at least 500 construction jobs and attracting additional manufacturing companies to the former Republic Steel site.

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is a SUNY exploratory college that has, in its infancy, attracted over $13 billion investment as a state-of-the-art research and development center. The college’s strategic presence across the Erie Canal—Albany to Utica to Buffalo—mimics the manufacturing and academic capacities of the communities’ shifting economies. Its model for innovative growth and, while propelled by StartUp NY, is one-of-a-kind in the world.

(The Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus is supported by NYSUNY2020 and The Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Complex by The Buffalo Billion.)

Not only do these Buffalo development initiatives spur job growth in the City, but their residual effects are impact New Yorkers through Central New York along the Erie Canal, as well. And just as the spring rain refreshes water of the Erie Canal that defines so many upstate New York communities, the State University of New York is fueling the will of New Yorkers to build a strong, vibrant economy.